Duncan shows Griffin he's still No. 1
Duncan shows Griffin he's still No. 1
SAN ANTONIO – It looked reckless, this shot Tim Duncan took. It looked awkward and flailing. It looked like he was hoping for a bailout call. It looked like it had no chance.
Except Duncan made it.
Duncan’s sloppy, falling layup-y thing came with about six minutes left in the San Antonio Spurs’ 108-92 win over the Los Angeles Clippers in Tuesday’s Game 1 of their second-round playoff series. It was part of a 26-point, 10-rebound performance, leading a Spurs team that shot 49 percent, made 13 3-pointers and won its 15th in a row — the longest streak continued in the playoffs since the 2004 Spurs won 17 straight.
“He’s the anchor,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Duncan was the superior power forward in the game, and how many times has that been true? There may already be a transition, one of those proverbial torch passings, with another big man taking his place as the best in the West or the NBA or of all time, or however you see Duncan. But there was none of that Tuesday, and Griffin was not that torch receiver.
The Big Fundamental, at 36, has experienced a significant decline in his production. But if there’s a playoff series to be won or a young challenger to be put back in his place, Duncan still can fundamental it up for 34 minutes.
“He’s not gonna do anything that’s gonna be on a highlight film for TV,” Popovich said. “A highlight film for coaches, possibly.”
Intentional or not, that statement painted a contrast with Griffin and the “Lob City” crew from Los Angeles, which has constructed an identity out of a thousand dunks, mostly Griffin’s. He was not bad Tuesday, getting 15 points and nine rebounds despite suffering from a banged-up knee he hurt during the previous series.
It was difficult to say just how much that mattered — Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said both Griffin and point guard Chris Paul were giving “what they’ve got” after a bruising seven-game series with Memphis. Maybe if Griffin were 100 percent and he jumped a little higher or moved a little more quickly, those flailing, plan-less spasms he calls post moves would work. Maybe not.
In any case, as they say in sports, if you’re out there, you have to perform. Although Griffin put together a presentable box score, at no point did it appear that if the Clippers needed a basket, they could toss it to Griffin and reasonably expect to get one.
Rather, L.A.’s best offense was to find Caron Butler or Eric Bledsoe and hope for the best. Bledsoe had 23 points in 26 minutes off the bench, and Butler’s 3-point shooting in the third quarter momentarily delayed the oncoming clinic.
The Spurs got ahead by 12 early in the second half, and even though they kept scoring, Butler hit a couple of 3s to get the spread back to eight with seven minutes left in the third quarter. Include a second-quarter stretch in which Bledsoe got a steal and scored three consecutive baskets, and you can see the kind of trouble the Clippers would have been in without those two.
For reasons he either couldn’t or wouldn’t explain, Paul went 3-for-13 for six points, failing to make a shot in the second half, and committed five turnovers. Afterward he told his young son “Daddy had a bad game.” He said his hip was just fine.
“I feel like I got every shot that I wanted,” Paul said. “I just didn’t make them.”
The Clippers may play better in the coming games. But something was established — no, reaffirmed — Tuesday. Something old.
Griffin was 9 years old when Duncan played his first NBA game. The first NBA game he can remember seeing was a Spurs game, actually, and he’s been looking up to Duncan ever since.
“I’ve watched him play for a long, long time,” Griffin said. “He’s definitely somebody you want to model your game after.”
NO D, NO RING!!!!
With 26 points on 4 of 4 shots from distance in only 20 minutes of PT. Efficient eviceration.
Wolves' fan: ginobili vs. the wolves is like he's just kind of laughing to himself all game...kind of like he thinks it's cute that they're trying to play basketball.
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